Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes men's basketball team could never recover from an early 11-point deficit, as they fell 76-58 to the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on January 20 at the CARSA Performance Gym.
"I thought we looked nervous off the start, unsettled, said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. "It's been a long time since we've played at home and we didn't look ourselves at the start of the game."
The Pronghorns set the tone early and then came out in the third quarter even stronger, to quash any hope of a Vikes second half comeback.
"Both teams played really good defence at times, we were just able to knock down shots early and find a little rhythm," said Pronghorns head coach Mike Hansen. "Our defence in the second half tightened up and the guys played hard."
It was the usual suspects at the top of the score sheet for the Vikes as fifth-year forward Gran Sitton led the team with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Scott Kellum continued his strong rookie season, picking up fifteen points and two assists. Hassan Abdullahi rounded out the top scorers, registering eight points and three steals.
For the Pronghorns third-leading scorer in the conference Elliot Sentance continued to shine, scoring 22 points while going four-for-five from beyond the arc.
"We have been preaching unselfishness and moving the ball, he did a great job of that tonight," said Hansen on the play of Sentance.
Zac Overwater recorded 15 points and four assists while Mike Pierzchala picked up a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Vikes struggled shooting the ball throughout the game, hitting over 30 per cent of their shots in just the first quarter. Despite that, the team fought right until the bitter end, even as the Pronghorns lead stretched and the minutes left dwindled away.
"We battled, we just couldn't get any traction defensively when we needed a stop," said Beaucamp. "We took two steps forward and two steps backward all night.
The loss drops the Vikes to a record of 5-8, as they continue to hold onto a playoff spot in an extremely tight Canada West conference.
The Pronghorns jump to 9-6, as they battle for possible home court advantage come playoff time.
"Last weekend we gave away two games at home so the guys really understood the importance of playing well defensively and that's what we did tonight," said Hansen.
These same two teams will be back in action tomorrow, January 21 with a tip off scheduled for 7 pm inside the CARSA Performance Gym. Both games can be watched live on canadawest.tv
"We have to realize that tomorrow is another playoff type game for us," said Beaucamp. "We have to have a short memory from here throughout the end of the season, win or lose, and we have to get off to a better start because early on we gave away our confidence and gave them confidence."
UVIC: 12-19-15-12: 58
LETH: 23-17-24-12: 76
UVIC: Grant Sitton (18), Scott Kellum (15), Hassan Abdullahi (8)
LETH: Elliott Sentance (22), Zac Overwater (15), Mike Pierzchala (14)